My Daughter Just Finished Elementary School, and I Want to Stop Time

It's painful to watch my daughters grow up so fast. But it's a good reminder to be the father I want to be and not have any regrets.

by Zachery Román
Originally Published: 
A dad with his two daughters who finished elementary school laughing on the couch while watching TV

Every day I die a little. A piece of me is torn asunder as I watch my children grow up before my eyes.

This year my older daughter finished elementary school. Where did the time go? I can’t even remember when she was a baby. Thankfully, I have videos and photos as a reminder, but that only puts salt in the wound.

I have two advertisements from Exclusive Resorts posted at my desk at work. One is of a little girl around age 3, raising her hands as she walks in the waves of the ocean with her sisters and mother in the background. There’s a timeline in front of her that starts with the word “Walks.” Farther down the time line, it reads “Walks down the aisle.” The caption above the little girl reads: “You never really have kids. You only borrow them for a few years.” Isn’t that the truth.

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I know these growing years are a challenge, but when I look back, I really don’t want to have any regrets, but if I’m honest with myself, I already do. There is just a finite amount of time that we as parents have with our children in their developmental stages. One day, they’ll be grown, living life and moving about the world with their own cares and responsibilities.

That doesn’t stop me from complaining and saying how tired I am right now. The ideal me wants to read books to my kids at night before they go to bed. The best version of me would never lose his temper and would always know what to say and do when his child is sad or upset. The man who is a great father wouldn’t be harsh or demanding. He’d be patient, kind, loving, and understanding.

The second advertisement I have posted shows a boy around age 8 at the beach, jumping from a picnic table, over his father who’s crouched down underneath the jumping boy. There is a timeline that starts at “1999” and then goes to the end and says: ‘Goes to college.”

The caption above the boy reads: One day you realize: you only have him for nine more summers. How will you spend them?”

Now, if you’re a sentimental guy like me when it comes to your kids, these two advertisements really gets you thinking: What am I doing with my kids right now that they’re kids? With all the hustle and bustle of life, homework, chores, family obligations and such, it’s really a challenge to remember that time is limited and these years won’t always be here.

My kids are at the stage when toys aren’t really appealing the way they once were. Gone are those days when playing with dolls was their favorite pastime. I took the oldest the other day to Target and asked if she wanted a toy, she turned me down and preferred an accessory for a cell phone instead.

Most of my friends have younger children, and in some ways, I’m envious of them. The moments when you can carry your kid on your back or pick them up and swing them around are great moments.

Mine are gone.

This Friday I’m taking my daughters to a princess prom that is being hosted by my church. It’s our third or fourth time going. It’s a time for fathers or father figures to spend quality time with the young girls in their lives and treat them like princesses.

There’s a horse-drawn carriage that looks like Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage, dinner, dancing, pictures, and activities for the girls. I like taking my daughters to this event. It helps remind me of the innocence that they still possess and an opportunity to connect with their “little selves.”

However, I wasn’t even sure if my oldest wanted to go with me this year, as she’s heading to junior high and might not think it’s cool. Thankfully, she was still interested.

I was spared one more time from having to hear the words, “Sorry, dad, I’m too old for that.”

But that day will eventually come.

I hope I’m man enough to handle it when it does.

Zachery Román is a writer and aspiring children’s book author. He enjoys writing about being a father and contemplating parenthood.

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